Behind Enemy Lines of Avs potential first-round opponents: Dallas Stars
DALLAS – Playoffs are just around the corner and it’s time for Colorado Hockey Now to check out the competition of who might be the first-round opponent. First up, the Dallas Stars.
Right now the Stars are in the second wild-card spot with 43-28-5 record, for a total of 91 points. If the playoffs started Tuesday, it would be Avs-Stars in the first round. Nashville has the same record as Dallas, but are ranked in the first wild-card spot because they have more regulation wins. This past weekend I was able to attend the Stars vs. Sharks game. While it wasn’t the game of the year, it was very interesting to see how the Stars looked live.
Before we dive too deep into the potential matchup, let’s chat about American Airlines Arena. I haven’t been to many other arenas besides Ball. So I always pay attention and really enjoy visiting other arenas when I can. I’m interested in the location, the seating levels, the in-game entertainment, the seat cushions, you name it. It’s almost like visiting an open house. Outside of the entrance is a sports plaza with bars, shops and a giant screen to watch the game going on inside. It’s really well done and I could see the place being packed come playoff time. Once you enter the stadium, this is where things get interesting. It felt like a mall. There were escalators everywhere, full-blown restaurants and some really nice bars. They had little decorative airplanes hanging from the ceiling in some of the hallways. It was a nice stadium, don’t get me wrong but it just wasn’t what I expected. If you have been to American Airlines, I would love to hear your thoughts.
The Stars are in a playoff battle for a reason. To me, that reason continues to be great goaltending. Jake Oettinger wasn’t tested a lot but he made key saves throughout the game. One could say, hot goaltending on the other end has been the Avs’ kryptonite in the playoffs. If the Avs were to play the Stars, the team would need to solve the Stars goalies quickly. Oettinger has a 27-13 record with a 2.49 GAA and .915 save percentage. Not half bad.
I haven’t watched much Stars hockey this year but they don’t seem like the same team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals just a couple of years ago and the Avs are a much different team than that awful Game 7 loss in which third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson was in net. While playing the Sharks, what stood out the most was the lack of quality scoring chances there were for San Jose. They had 26 shots on net and a short-handed goal. Other than that, it was a fairly quiet 2-1 game. I feel like the Avs are just too fast and the Stars would have a hard time keeping up, but then again, we’ve said that a lot the last couple of years.
The Stars still have long-time Av rival, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, who both found the scorecard on Saturday. Squirrel moment, but how the heck does Benn still skate in 2022 without a visor? It gave me anxiety watching pucks and sticks go flying by his face. Anyway, Benn is one of those guys who can get under the Avs’ skin and draw penalties. This wasn’t a physical game, as the Stars had 19 hits and 20 for the Sharks. But as we know, playoffs bring out the best of everyone and if this was a Stanley Cup matchup, I would imagine those stats being different. On the ice and statistically, the Avs are a better team. From top to bottom, everything says the Avs would breeze through this series if it were to happen. The only…and ONLY matchup that worries me, would be Oettinger catching fire before playoffs and stealing a game or two.
There are a little under two weeks left in the regular season before the fun starts. The Stars are battling for their season while the Avs are just breakin’ records and taking names. Let’s see how everything plays out, but I wouldn’t be too upset about playing the Stars in round one. A little payback for 2020 would be nice.